The back-to-school shopping season has come and gone, and now retailers are letting folks know how the critical month of August played out in the cash registers.

Why is August so important? Well, short of the holidays, it is a busy season for the urban shopping malls and suburban strip centers. And since kids have more of a say in their fall fashions than gifts to follow later in the year, it's a great tell-tale sign of what retail concepts are working out and which ones need to go back to the drawing board.

Thrifty, in general, is still in. Ross Stores(Nasdaq: ROST) and Dollar General(NYSE: DG) saw its August comps shoot up by 6%, while TJX(NYSE: TJX) was up by 2%. Not all discounters did so hot, though. Target(NYSE: TGT) results clocked in flat, while Value City(NYSE: VCD) saw the top-line shed 5% of its take in comparable stores.

The high-end didn't fare well, either. May Department Stores(NYSE: MAY) comps fell by a dramatic 8.6% last month. Saks(NYSE: SKS) and Abercrombie & Fitch(NYSE: ANF) suffered 3% slides. Federated(NYSE: FD) saw its same-store sales ease by 6%.

Traditional department-store chain Sears(NYSE: S) took one of the biggest hits. The company came to grips with its softer side, all right, posting an 11% decline in comps. Men's Warehouse(NYSE: MW), apparently stung by the soft economy where the unemployed aren't springing for new suits, saw a huge 12.7% drop in August. On the upside, Sharper Image(Nasdaq: SHRP) was sharp indeed, with a 15% spike in same-store sales. Pier 1(NYSE: PIR) kept riding the wave of refinanced renovations, jumping 8.6% for the month.

In sum, there weren't a lot of jaw-dropping surprises, here. Folks are still turning to the discounters for good deals, spoiling their homes with refinance savings, and, it seems, just can't get enough of Sharper Image's electronic gadgetry. Now it's time to go back to school to apply all the retailing lessons learned over the summer.